Chevrolet has been churning out vehicles for over 100 years now. The automaker was founded in November of 1911 by a man named Louis Chevrolet, which is pretty convenient in hindsight. Mr. Chevrolet was a Swiss-born Frenchman with a penchant for racing. He came to the States and began piloting quick cars for for Fiat. Soon after he was tasked by General Motors to run race cars for the Buick brand. During his time with Buick, Lou Chevy began to understand just what it takes to design and build cars. Chevrolet automobiles sprouted up, and the Bow Tie-brand continues to pump out cars and trucks to this day.
As a tip o’ the cap to Louis, Chevy has put out a special edition Corvette that serves as a proper homage to the man that founded the company. Racing was in his blood, and these Centennial Edition Vettes are set to boil off your own precious red fluid. I was lucky enough to spend a week with the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Centennial Edition… and I think Louis would be happy with the modern sports car that his namesake is churning out.
Keep reading to learn more, and watch a video where I spend my time from dusk to dawn getting my hoon on.
The C6 generation of the Corvette still appeals to me. I was never a ‘Vette fan growing up, and I still loathe the C3-C5 cars, yet the C6 looks both sleek and muscular at the same time. The Centennial Edition version ups the Creatine dosage by a few Jersey Shore-grade scoops, but the looks work. In fact, they work damn well, and most of my time driving this Z06 was spent responding to waves, thumbs pointed up, and man nods.
Chevy has splashed the exterior in a dark scheme called Carbon Flash Metallic, which is accented wonderfully with a pair of matte stripes running down the center of the car. An aggressive front splitter, subtle rear spoiler, and deep side sills all work together nicely, but they aren’t the main focal touch that bring the entire look together. It’s the wheels. While I don’t love the red bit running ’round the circumference of the blacked-out rollers, I do love the darkness. Chevrolet has taken a nod from Vlad the Impaler on this car, and the overall effect is excellent.
It’s not just the wheels, however, that set out to serve notice of the sinister intentions hiding under the sinewy bodywork of the Centennial Edition Z06. Those wheels certainly help start the conversation though. Up front, the Z06 uses 19-inch wheels while 20-inch units sit out back. Said wheels are wrapped in ultra-sticky Michelin PS Cup rubber, which is almost on the wrong side of street legal. There’s less tread on these tires than you might find on your average amateur drag strip racers machine.
The result? Grip. Grip. Grip.
Grip for days, as long as the roads are dry and the tires are warm. Otherwise, shift early and shift often to keep the Z06 from becoming a dreidel. The tires aren’t the only thing keeping me moving in the right direction though, because the Louis Chevy tribute car is equipped with the Z06 Performance Package. That means this two-door also wears carbon ceramic brakes, which might think about fading once the sun blows up and swallows our solar system. Add in the magnet suspension system, and you’re left with a car that wants to devour other vehicles off the line, and then continue to chew on their bones in any corner.
The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Centennial Edition is a muscle car that happens to enjoy destroying the curviest of curves.
Of course, I couldn’t attack anything if I didn’t have the proper powerplant mounted under the hood. Thankfully, this isn’t a base Corvette. I’m playing jovial host to the LS7-equipped Z06. That means I have 7.0-liter 505-horsepower V8 at the ready, and with my twitchy right foot I’m all too happy to turn expensive gasoline into physical discomfort and explosions of blissful mental fireworks.
My god, that noise. That glorious noise.
Chevrolet decided that the Z06 should be fitted with a dual mode exhaust system. The LS7 creates a lot of noise, but sometimes a Z06 driver (read: not me) might want a bit less of the V8 dancing in his or her ear canals. Under 3,500 rpm, a vacuum-operated solenoid closes a flap on the two central exhaust outlets, while the two outer outlets remain open. Push the needle past 3,500 rpm, and the central units open up.
Thankfully, however, Chevy engineers decided to stick a fuse in the passenger-side footwell. This little 10-amp unit controls the solenoids, and nothing else. Pull that, and glorious noise is the immediate result at all points in the rev range. I kept the fuse in the cup holder for the entire week I spent with the car.
If I want to enjoy all that the Z06 has to offer, I can’t spend that time outside. That means I have to venture into the interior space, which is not exactly up to par with some other offerings in this price range. The base price of a Z06 is in the mid to low $70,000 range, but our Centennial Edition car is a tick over $101,000. Some of the buttons appear dated, and the nav looks like it was crafted by PlaySkool. Still, the Corvette takes some knocks that aren’t exactly justified.
This Z06 boasts suede in the center portion of the seats, around the rim of the steering wheel, and all over the shift-knob. The seats are quite comfortable, and the bolstering can be turned up or down depending on the type of driving planned. I could see remaining just as cozy over a 1,000-mile jaunt as I would over the course of 10 miles. Throw in the solid sound system and the heads-up display, and I’m left with an interior that’s more than useful in a vehicle as capable as this Z06.
While it’s quite capable, it also enters into the equally capable air that plays home to cars like the Porsche 911, Jaguar XK-R, Nissan GT-R, Aston Martin V8 Vantage, and a few others. The 2012 Centennial Z06 might not match the luxury afforded by the Jag or Aston, the record-breaking figures offered up by the GT-R, or the general sense of Germany provided by the Porsche.
That’s all fine though, because I got to spend a week with a car that may have well been called the Chevrolet F14 Tomcat, and been painted in Stars and Stripes. Plus, when wearing the ridiculously sticky Michelin PS Cup rubber, it’s capable of showing the competition what quad round taillights look like as they disappear into the distance.
[Disclosure: Chevrolet gave me the keys to the car shown above, as well as a tank of gas. That tank of gas lasted longer than I thought it would because I was hitting as high as 27 miles per gallon on the highway. Still, I left the highways for curvier pastures… and wound up needing about three more tanks of gas.]